CHIBA, Japan :U.S. wrestler Gable Steveson booked his place in the gold medal bout of the men's freestyle super heavyweight category without conceding a single point in his three bouts on Thursday.
Steveson first beat former Asian champion Aiaal Lazarev of Kyrgyzstan with a 10-0 victory by technical superiority after five takedowns before he stunned Rio Games gold medallist Taha Akgul of Turkey 8-0 in the quarter-finals.
The semi-final against Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur proved to be a tougher encounter, but 21-year-old Steveson managed to get a single leg takedown early and finished with another takedown in the final 10 seconds to win 5-0.
"With little to no international senior experience, it's crazy that a young cat like me can come in here and shock the world so quick, have everybody notice that a 21-year-old kid in college is going to maybe take gold tomorrow," Gable said.
"It's outstanding to me, my family back home... I'm going to do my job and try to come out victorious."
Steveson will face Georgia's three-times world champion Geno Petriashvili, whose experience shone through when he came back from 3-0 down against Iranian 20-year-old Amir Hossein Zare to win 6-3 and guarantee an improvement on his 2016 bronze medal.
Belarusian Mahamedkhabib Kadzimahamedau moved into the gold medal freestyle welterweight bout after a see-saw match with Italy's two-time world champion and Rio bronze medallist Frank Chamizo, winning 9-7.
Kadzimahamedau, who had beaten American Kyle Dake 11-0 in the quarter-finals, led 2-1 at the break before making a flurry of point-scoring moves to win even as Chamizo looked to counter and attack.
"My mind is in shock, it's stuck. I really can't believe what's going on in this moment," Chamizo said.
"I lost my opportunity but I'll keep going. I will not give up and I'm focused now on my bronze medal match."
The Belarusian will take on Russian Zaurbek Sidakov who comfortably beat Kazakhstan's Daniyar Kaisanov and nearly scored five points with a "grand amplitude throw", winning 11-0 by technical superiority.
China's Pang Qianyu progressed to the women's freestyle bantamweight final with a takedown against Belarusian Vanesa Kaladzinskaya right at the death in a 2-2 tie, advancing having scored with a single higher point-scoring move.
Kaladzinskaya had shocked medal favourite and top seed Vinesh Phogat of India in the quarter-final and nearly held on for a 2-0 win until Pang pounced with seconds left.
She will face two-times world champion Mayu Mukaida of Japan who beat Mongolia's Bat-Ochiryn Bolortuyaa 6-3.
Mukaida had sailed through her earlier bouts, beating Cameroon's Essombe Tiako 10-0 before dispatching former European champion Roksana Zasina of Poland 12-2 in the first period.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay in Chiba, Writing by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Hugh Lawson)